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ACCOUNTABILITYTHE ABILITY TO ACCOUNT

Ana C. M. MACIEL Yzigi Atibaia SP OVERVIEW This objective of this essay is to provide teachers with some guidelines about the moment of accountability for Yzigi lessons.

accountability noun \-kau n-t-bi-l-t\: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, 2011.) According to the Longman dictionary online, to account for something means: - to be the reason why something happens [= explain]: - to give a satisfactory explanation of why something has happened or why you did something [= explain]: Both definitions lead us to understand that the meaning has to do with explaining or describing what has happened, and pointing out the responsible factors or actions. The term accountability has become popular in education referring to the politics of gathering information about an educational institution as to its performance in order to benefit the public benefits. This performance has to do with the professional board, students results, and so on. It is a macro evaluation of a certain school or university, with the purpose of developing better political systems and receiving public funds. Schedler (1999) presents this macro dimension of accountability, explaining that it is divided into three moments, (evaluation, answerability and responsabilization). By analogy, we can take this macro definition to a micro perception, which can be the teaching moments, inside a classroom. Accountability in this environment can be understood in very simple terms as: the classroom moment in which teacher and students together, understand or name what happened inside during the task, with which purpose, and which results were achieved. Although it seems to be a simple procedure conducted by the teacher, the daily practice shows that it is not that easy. Some factors for this situation can be: the kind of methodology in classroom, lack of class planning, unbalance of focus in the classroom, and teachers anxiety. The first one, methodology, shows us that: when working with grammar/translation approach, for example, the accountability is to have the students name the kind of grammar rule that was practiced during the lesson. The teacher asks the students to tell the name of the grammar rule, and to describe it. A possible thing to hear at the end of a class under this approach is: today we learned the Verb To Be in its interrogative form. In order to do so, we have to switch the auxiliary to the beginning of the sentence. The description of rules is something very concrete for teachers, so it is easy to account for these rules. Besides, the classes are usually in the mother tongue, which makes it easier to describe the formulas. Another situation is with the structural approach, which language patterns were taught inductively, that is, students were taught

the pattern and then would generalize them, through repetition. You might hear at the end of such a lesson: you know how to use the verb to like and to hate now, you can say: I like.., she likes .and.., I hate., he hates. Because grammar is a conduct of the teachers work, it is easy to know what to account for, it is totally predictable. Another case is when the class is based on audio-lingual method: because language units are presented in the form of dialogues, the teacher will account for some set of sentences or phrases at the end of the class. In Lexical approach, for instance, it is easier to account for what was taught. A teacher might say at the end of a certain class: today, you learned 20 new words, and the students feel confident and proud about that. These methodologies have in common the fact that the content to be taught is controlled and predictable, thus the teacher has no difficulties in accounting for them at the end of the class. Nevertheless, only a few of them do. When considering the communicative approach, because of the several aspects it involves, it requires more elaboration from the teacher in order to make it happen properly. Teachers know that classes under this perspective have certain features, namely: the social context where that specific language takes place, the function of the language used, the communicative competence most addressed in that moment of teaching, and the task-based format of interaction. They are known for teachers, but not for students. So, the accountability moment requires much more than simply accounting for pieces of language, it must take into consideration everything that composes a communicative-based lesson. The second factor that might account for the lack of accountability in class is lack of class planning. If the teacher does not prepare classes properly, following the guidelines presented at the Task Analysis Framework (Nunan, 1990), available at the Yzigi Teacher Education Program (Yzigi, 2009), he will hardly understand what the main purpose of each task is, and once the purpose is not clear, nor will the evaluation/accountability. So, when preparing tasks, the first thing to have in mind is: by the end of this task, what should my students be able to do? (do here, does not mean: pieces of language they can speak, but rather: perform/interact/live in a real world with the support of certain communicative aspect of the language), besides what to do, how they managed to achieve that performance is important to be accounted for. If the class is not planned, the teacher will remember to check only pieces of language, and this is not a communicative approach procedure. Unbalance of focus might be another reason why accountability does not happen. Sometimes, teachers are so eager to plan and give nice and funny lessons that they address their efforts to promote really nice and effective openings, or icebreakers, or shock activities in the beginning of the classes, that they simply forget to close them. Classes well started have the right to be well closed. What practice shows us is that: either the teacher forgets to consider the closing moment, or simply there is no time left to do so. Thus, it is essential to keep the openings well done, but also to provide space to have classes closed as nicely as they started, especially because this is what the student will most remember, the last minutes. The last one, anxiety, also plays a role in preventing teachers from providing accountability moments. This feeling may be due to different reasons: for example, new

teachers facing their first classroom experience focus so much only on what must be taught that can forget what needs to be accounted. Another situation is when they have peer observation or supervision, they are so worried about how to teach, that they forget what to do at the end of task, or lesson. Yet, the teacher might be so worried about the following (coming next) class to be given, that they are already thinking about it, and forget the moment where they are now. Having these issues mentioned, teachers need to understand, that the moment of accountability is one of the most important moments in a classroom, so much attention must be paid to it. How does it work, exactly? The accountability has to be done every time one learning goal is achieved. It is not enough to accomplish a task, it is essential to know that the task is accomplished. At this moment, redundancy is important, because when students go over and describe what they did, and the results they obtained, they organize information in a way that makes sense to them. So, one example can be: Task: Make Your Point 1 Unit 1 - Language in context page 6/7.
Objectives (what for? Why?) Introducing the topic of dating Developing listening strategies

By the end of the task.

The students will be able to understand that in order to succeed in a listening task, some strategies are important: first they have to bring or build their background knowledge about the subject, then listen for the main idea, organize it, then listen again for more details. This is the way they should do everytime they face a listening task.

Input Data (what to use)

It can be a scene from a movie

Quick scenes of pickup lines, for example.

Grouping (what kind of arrangement?)

individually

Preparation

Task 1.1 - working in pairs

Procedures and instructions: what to do?

Task 1.2. students first read the statements and provide their own opinion. Then they listen once with the focus of True or False in mind. Task 1.3 they share their answers in pairs, or whole classroom. Task 2 preparation for the second listening Task 3 they listen again with the focus of more detailed information. They write the answers

Performance

1 the understanding of the topic itself Accountability 2 the steps they took in order to reach the development of listening strategies

Link to the next task

You can call their attention to:

Dr. Green said in the inverview: a great number of guys in one study reported. What does he mean by a great number of? Do you know other ways of quantifying?

Related HOE/RB

LANGUAGE IN CONTEXT 2

Looking back the the accountability feature, here comes the following. It is not enough to make it mechanically, simply by asking: so, what did you do? Accountability is much more than that. Once it is clear for the teacher the learning goals, which are explained in the gray line of the table above (by the end of the task, the students will be able to.), these goals will be clear for the students too. However, there is no magic. The teacher should not take for granted that because students performed the task, they know what they did. They do not know. It is the teachers role to make students realize what happened, and the results they obtained from it. An example of how to make this, is to: First, agree with them that the students can now talk a bit more about the topic because they could understand the interview. Praise them for that, this is an accomplishment! Then, ask them whether it was easier to understand the listening when they did it the second time. Their answer will surely be yes. Once you now have this agreement, go back and ask them to tell you what they did during the whole task, in order to have this second listening easily performed. They will report the procedures which are written in the Task Analysis Framework. Praise them for that, and reinforce that these procedures are what they are practicing, and that they should be patient everytime they deal with listening tasks, in classroom, on HOE, during tests.

This was a simple example of an accountability of a listening task. But it is important to make accountability of all kinds of tasks, and at the end of a lesson. When the teacher helps the students to organize and make the learning activities more tangible, the teacher gives the student the control over learning. This is the ultimate reason for accountability in classrooms, to provide the student with the control, empowering him. So, if it could be represented in an image, accountability of the task exemplified above could be something like: Evaluation: what was done? A listening task

Answerability: how it happened?

I talked about the topic before, so I connected my ideas with what I was going to listen. I listened twice, with distinct objectives

Responsabilization: attributions of success Connecting ideas helped, and having different moments of focus helped me to have control over the task, as well as lower anxiety.
Adapted from Afonso, 1999.

The description in the above table, may illustrate the following definitions found on Longman Dictionary online: account [countable]: a written or spoken description that says what happens in an event or process accountable [not before noun] responsible for the effects of your actions and willing to explain or be criticized for them

When the accountability of a unit is made, there are more things to ask, and to help them report. They need to understand and organize: - what they talked about - the communicative functions they used - what communicative competence was most addressed - what they did in order to practice and improve performance. - what kind of strategies they worked with, and how they benefited from them - what they need to improve. To conclude, the ability to account is to make students realize what they did in order to achieve success in a task. Teachers need to have the ability to do that all the time, after each learning moment, having in mind that having students aware of what they are doing to learn is as important as what they are learning. The teachers job is not to tell them, instead, it is to work on their ZPD so that they reach the conclusions by themselves. If they can report and describe what they did (consciously), they will be able to perform it again. This is to gain autonomy. This is what teachers are here for, to set them free.
REFERENCES: AFONSO, A. J. Polticas avaliativas e accountability em educao subsdios para um debate iberoamericano. Ssifo Revista de Cincias em Educao, n.9, maio/agosto 2009. ALLEN, C. P.; FERREIRA, F. M. C. C; GUIDO, M. R.; VIEIRA, M. R. C. Make your Point. Vol1 So Paulo: Instituto de Idiomas Yzigi, 2004 POLIFEMI, M. C. (ed.) Yzigi TeachersPre Service Program. So Paulo: Instituto de Idiomas Yzigi, 2009.

SCHEDLER, A. Conceptualizing accountability. In: SCHEDLER, A.; DIAMOND, L.; PLATTNER, M. F.; (eds.). The Self-Restraining State. Power and Accountability in New Democracies. London: Lynne Reinner Pub., pp. 13-28, 1999.